French Lake - Cache Lake Loop

Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Trip Date : 
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Additional Route Information
125 km
6 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
11990 m
Longest Portage: 
3300 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Long and frequent portages. One portage over 3 km long, and one day with over 7 km of portaging.

Technical Guide: 

Day One (18 km / 5 portages totalling 1160 m)
Start at French Lake on Highway 11
South through French Lake
South on French River
South on Baptism Creek
P 200 m R
P 425 m R
P 220 m L
P 265 m L
Southeast through Baptism Lake
P 50 m to Trousers Lake
West through Trousers Lake
Camp on Trousers Lake night one
Day Two (16 km / 3 portages totalling 6530 m)

P 3200 m to Cache Lake
South through Cache Lake
P 3300 m to Lindsay Lake
South through Lindsay Lake
P 30 m at narrows
South then west through McKenzie Lake
Camp on McKenzie Lake night two
Day Three (26 km / 1 portage totalling 680 m)

P 680 m to McKenzie Bay
Southwest through McKenzie Bay
Northwest through Kawnipi Lake
Camp on Kawnipi Lake night three
Day Four (19 km / 5 portages totalling 1235 m)

To northwest corner of Kawnipi Lake
P 50 m to short section of Maligne River
North on Maligne River
P 55 m to Shelley Lake
North then west through Shelley Lake
P 300 m to Keats Lake
West through Keats Lake
P 420 m to Chatterton Lake
North through Chatterton Lake
P 410 m to Russel Lake
North through Russell Lake
Camp on Russel Lake night four
Day Five (23 km / 4 portages totalling 1750 m)

P 30 m to Maligne River
North on Maligne River
North through Sturgeon Lake
P 380 m to Olifaunt Lake
East through Olifaunt Lake
East on Pickerel River
P 1160 m L
East on Pickerel River
East then north through Fern Lake
P 180 m to Bud Lake
Camp on Bud Lake night five
Day Six (23 km / 3 portages totalling 635 m)

North through Bud Lake
P 20 m to Beg Lake
East through Beg Lake
P 165 m to Bisk Lake
East then north through Bisk Lake
P 450 m to Pickerel Lake
North then east through Pickerel Lake
East on Pickerel River
East then north through French Lake
Finish at French Lake access

Maps Required
Other Maps: 
Quetico Provincial Park map published by the Quetico Foundation Fisher Maps F-25, F-26, F-29, F-30
Special Comments: 

We`re not sure whether this should be classed as a canoe route or a hiking trail. Almost 12 km of portaging, with about 7 km of that being done in one day. A challenging route to say the least - paddlers should be prepared for at least one extremely strenuous day.


Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


Did trip in 2002 in reverse. Outstanding trip!! Potages at cache Lake were long and mucky. One member of our party slipped into muck up to his armpits. A 10 foot tree limb disapeared when we stuck it in. Had to paddle through beaver dams. Fishing on Kawnipi was outstanding. We ended up staying there three nights. Would love to do it again.

Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


Did the trip first week of Oct 2004. It was wonderful. Beware of using the Fischers maps for the portages - great with the lakes though.
The 2 long portages to Cache and then to Lindsey - muddy, wet and full of adventure. HAd to paddle through a beaver dam on the trail - it was great.
Pictographs were nice and moose sightings put us in awe.
HAd a great sleep at Chatterton falls - good swimming too.
It was very windy most of the trip but canoeable (if that is a word).
Had some great eagle sighting also.
We met campers only the first day - then we only saw humans back at Dawson Trail campground.
Pickeral lake is a long haul - we did not have much wind which made it easier that day.
Do I recomend this trip? If you have an attitude for adventure. Personally I love portaging and paddling - so it was all pleasure. I loved it. Will definitely do it again.
We drove from South west On to do this trip and it was worth every minute.

Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


Very secluded loop, great!! But... be ready to wade through waist deep muck on the 2.5 mile portage south of cache lake... twice!!!